Former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj Kumar (64kg) on Thursday became the second Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympic Games after advancing to the semifinals of the AIBA World Qualifying Tournament.
Manoj thrashed Tajikistan’s Rakhimov Shavkatdzhon in the quarterfinal 3-0. He will next face European champion Pat McCormack of Britain in the semifinal. McCormack defeated Frenchman Amzile Hassan in his quarterfinal bout.
“Given the terrible state in which boxing is right now, I am relieved to have qualified for the Games. There was lot of pressure on the team which is competing here and I am glad that came good,” Manoj told PTI.
“I am immensely thankful to the coaches, the Sports Ministry, the national coaching staff, the Sports Authority of India and my personal coach Rajesh, who is also my elder brother. Their efforts have helped me pull it off,” he added.
National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu described his performance as a dominating one.
“Manoj dominated all three rounds and boxed intelligently to win and qualify for the Games,” Sandhu said.
Manoj, also a former Asian Championships bronze-medallist, had competed in the 2012 London Games as well and had lost in the quarterfinals.
Before Manoj, Shiva Thapa (56kg) had made the cut for the Rio Games during the Asian Qualifying Tournament held in China in March.